On Thursday, October 15th, nouveau punks, The Garden held their record release party for “Haha” at The Teragram Ballroom in Los Angeles. The VadaVada Vaudevillians, Wyatt and Fletcher Shears opted for a setting that reflected their art- fresh, bombastic, chemically imbalanced and extremely vivid, rather than the sterilized and homogenized stronghold that spawned it- Orange County. But even with such guests as Tyler, the Creator in attendance, The Teragram Ballroom still only reached 2/3rds capacity by the time The Garden took the stage, thus critically challenging my proclamations of L.A. being the epicenter of music in America. Afterall, if Angeleno’s aren’t swarming to see The Garden then my braggadocios proclamations about L.A. being the center of the music universe are somewhat unfounded.
Joining The Garden at The Teragram Ballroom and setting the tone for the evening was ex Murder City Devils frontman, Spencer Moody and young rockers, Slow Hollows. We walked into the Teragram and Spencer Moody was already on stage. Toward the beginning of his set, Moody reminded me of a mix between Tom Waits and Lemmy Kilmister. He was quite intriguing. Moody was joined on stage by a Fender Telecaster and the most bored drummer in the world. He wailed out his impassioned lyrics and tortured melodies as his drummer tapped his kit with a detached interest.
The band Slow Hollows are a group of young, teenage, sonic virtuosos. When I say young, I mean young. They aren’t your typical, novice garage band that are so prevalent in this scene. Slow Hollows have complex yet easily digestible arrangements made even more palatable by the prowess exhibited by lead singer/lead guitarist Austin Feinstein. There is a real Modest Mouse feel to the songs and if I close my eyes, it almost sounds like I’m listening to Conor Oberst. I predict that we are all going to hear a lot more from Slow Hollows. It turns out that Tyler and crew were there that night to support Cherry Bomb contributors and friends, Slow Hollows. During their set, someone in that crew had an altercation with security and was tossed out of the club and I must say, security showed great restraint in not mauling the malcontent that was shoving them throughout the altercation. I spoke with Slow Hollows guitarist and founding member, Dylan Thinnes outside the Teragram about the altercation, the hell that is his hometown of Woodland Hills, Ca and the huge, emerging, Neo Nazi presence forming in neighboring Agoura Hills. He informed me that he was a Janky Smooth reader and we agreed to talk more in depth in the near future. Do not sleep on Slow Hollows.
Finally, it was time for one of the most high energy, highly original bands in independent music. High fashion, high brow and highly conceptual, The Garden offer a sound that is as accessible for slam dancing as it is for pop locking. Fletcher Shears is one of the best young drummers in music and twin brother, Wyatt Shears seamlessly connects with the audience while his hands dance across his bass guitar. It is so easy to compare and contrast most bands. While I can say that The Garden remind me of 80’s bands like P.I.L. or King Missile, there is nothing in this current atmosphere of the psych, surf, punk musical avalanche of bands that sounds anything like The Garden. They have a way of writing songs about inanimate objects that brings them to life and breathes air into the lungs of typically mundane topics.
Wyatt scanned the sparse audience with a stone, expressionless poker face, undaunted by the turnout. Fans of The Garden are some of the most exuberant and their willingness to pack it in closer made the Teragram look more empty than it really was. When the music started, expressionless transformed to highly animated and the brothers Shears, along with everyone in attendance started bouncing off the walls. A tiny strip of fans smushed in close to the stage took great care in propping stage divers up with love and affection and there wasn’t a moment throughout the set that wasn’t complete bedlam. The first portion of the set was dedicated to their first album, Life and Times of a Paperclip, as well as The Rules EP. A quarter of the way through, Fletcher emerged from behind his drum kit and the duo began an assault of songs off the new record, “Haha”. The beat based tracks had a real trap music feel to them and having both brothers at the front of the stage was a victory of energy. Not all songs off the new record had that vibe and one of the highlights of their set was a song off the new album, “All Smiles Over Here”. It’s an insta classic and had the feel of a song that could define the band for years to come.
I couldn’t help but be annoyed with the turnout. I respect bands for stepping outside their comfort zones and even though The Garden had a show scheduled at their stronghold at The Observatory in Orange County just a couple days later, it perturbed me that Los Angeles doesn’t know what’s up with The Garden because they are one of the most exciting bands in independent music today. It appears that Orange County might actually be the bastion of musical expression now. Not only in California but maybe the entire world. It wouldn’t be the first time that happened.
Words: Danny Baraz
Photos: Taylor Wong